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almost all travellers must have felt of making up your mind where to go to, when there is no particular reason why you should go to one place more than to another. Naturally, my first inclination would have been to go “on to Richmond” with the grand army of the Potomac, but unfortunately there were many objections to such a proceeding. In the first place, I had such confidence in the “masterly inactivity," as the New York Herald used to style it, of General McClellan's tactics, that I doubted, as it proved with reason, whether I might not be kept waiting at Fortress Monroe for weeks to come. In the second, I strongly suspected that if I did follow the army, I should see very little but the smoke of the cannon in the event of a battle ; and, lastly—but why should I go on, unmindful of Queen Elizabeth's answer to the magistrates of Falmouth in the matter of their not ringing the town bells, and enumerate the reasons why I did not go with the Potomac army, when there was one simple and decisive argument, and that was that I could not. I was supposed, rightly or wrongly, to be connected with the English press, and on this ground was denied access to the Richmond expedition, by orders of the Secretary of War. It is useless trying to conceal anything in America. Before I had been a couple of weeks in the country, my name, antecedents, and history, and a good deal of personal intelligence that was perfectly novel to myself, was published in VOL. II.
the American papers. Under these circumstances, it was little use seeking to obtain permission to visit the peninsula, and I had received such uniform courtesy from all American officials I had hitherto come across, that I did not like to disturb the pleasing tenor of my recollections, by exposing myself to the probability of a discourteous refusal from Mr. Stanton.
So, in fact, my choice of directions in which to travel was limited. The orders of the War Department precluded my journeying East, the insurrection would not allow me to go South, and the cold forbade me from travelling North. The only path open to me lay westward in the track of the war, and it was this path I resolved to follow. My road lay through Western Virginia, whence the Confederates had just retreated, through Ohio, the great Border Free State, through Kentucky, the chief of the Union Slave States, whose loyalty, to say the most, had been a half-hearted neutrality, down to Tennessee, the stronghold and battlefield of the Confederates in the West.
I left Washington in the early morning, on the day when the President signed the measure for the emancipation of the slaves in the district of Columbia, a bright promise, as it proved, of a brighter future. By the way, the night before I left, a Washington friend of mine, the most lukewarm of Abolitionists, told me an incident worth relating: He had been driving that day in a hired carriage, whose coachman, an old negro, he had known for years. To his astonishment the driver mistook his way repeatedly. At last my friend grew angry, and asked the man what ailed him. “Ah, massa,” the negro answered ; "all this matter about the emancipa“tion has got into my head somehow, and I feel stunned “like.” Well, in the words of a dear friend of mine,
“God's fruit of justice ripens slow,” and it is pleasant to me to think that I, too, have seen the ripening of one small fruit of justice. So as we passed on that morning through the dull barren fields of Maryland, I could not help watching the coloured folk in the cars with more than usual interest. I had not been long enough in the country to lose the sense of novelty with which the black people impress a stranger. To me they are the one picturesque element in the dull monotony of outward life in America. With their dark swarthy skins varying from the deepest ebony to the rich yellow hue—with their strange love for bright colours in their dress, no matter how stained and faded, and yet, gaudy as they are, arranged with a sort of artistic instinct with their bright laughing smile and their deep wistful eyes, they form a race apart, a strange people in a strange land. Probably, if you lived amongst them, you would lose all sense of their picturesqueness just as we in England should see little romance about gipsies, if there was a Romany
camp squatted down in every village. As a gentleman, who is known as one of the acutest of observers, once said to. me, “negroes are just like a man you meet, “ who is an uncommonly pleasant companion for half “ an hour, but whom you find a monstrous bore when “ you are shut up all alone with him for a long rainy “ day.” While I remained in America I was still in the early stage of investigation, and could hardly appreciate the evident distaste which even the stanchest Freesoilers have for the black race. A very strong Republican confessed to me on one occasion that he could never shake hands with a negro without instinctive repugnance, and this feeling is, I suspect, a very universal one throughout the Free States. In Maryland, as in all slave countries, there prevails a more kindly feeling towards the individual negro. In the car in which I travelled from Washington, black men came in and out freely, and the white passengers seemed to have no objection to their contact. Indeed, in one or two cases, I saw men get up to make room for negro women, who, in justice I must add, were neither young nor pretty. By one of the barbarous laws of the black code of Maryland, the Washington railroad is forbidden to take free coloured people as passengers unless they can obtain a bond from some responsible householder, for a thousand dollars, to indemnify the company in case of their being claimed afterwards as fugitive slaves. Of course, this rule was always evaded, whenever the negro was personally known to the railroad officials, and during the war everything was in such confusion that, I fancy, it was rarely enforced. Barring this provision, coloured people may pass freely in the cars of the Baltimore and Ohio line. There is not, indeed, the absolute equality in American railway travelling that we fancy in Europe. I dare say the reader may have observed how on our penny river steamboats, where there is no difference of fares, and no division of classes, yet, somehow or other, the working poor generally congregate in the bows of the vessel, rarely in the more aristocratic stern. The same thing happens across the Atlantic. On all American lines there is always one car, generally the one nearest the engine, where, without notice or order, the common soldiers, the working men, and the negroes take their places naturally. There is nothing to hinder a roughshod, mud-covered soldier from sitting in the hinder cars, but he rarely does so. How far a man of colour might be liable to insult if he placed himself amidst the genteel society, I cannot say. It is certain he would feel uncomfortable, and avoids the experiment. The western line of the Baltimore and Ohio turns off at the famous Relay Bridge, the junction of the Washington and the Wheeling railroads, which the Confederates tried in vain to blow up at the first outburst of hostilities. The country was in look much the same as when I passed through it some six weeks before. The leaves